Data collected during workshops in Australia and in Sri Lanka were used to explore the perceptions of supervision of postgraduate dissertations held by staff in institutions undergoing rapid expansion in postgraduate study. Thirty-three Australian and 18 Sri Lankan participants listed desirable knowledge and skills in research, in dissertation and time management, in knowledge of resources and procedures as well as in interpersonal relationships. Anxieties focused on academic expertise, appropriate standards, institutional climates and infrastructures. They rated most favourably problem solving, solving and evaluation with independent and critical study as the aims of short-term dissertations. These aims were considered in the context of establishing criteria to reduce student and staff uncertainty over requirements and standards and of supporting postgraduate degrees for staff. Some national differences in anxieties and aims emerged but were a question of degree rather than content.
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